Mackelmore wins best hip-hop video at VMA’s but… he’s white?

Forget Miley Cyrus, Tuesday night saw Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis win the moon man for Best Hip Hop Video of the Year.  The indie duo beat out big names like Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and A$AP Rocky for their music vid for Can’t Hold Us! The pair also took out n winning the Best Video With a Social Message category, “Same Love” fighting off heavyweight competition Snoop and Drake, who collaborated on the anti-firearm ode “No Guns Allowed.”

Needless to say a barrage of criticism has followed. Examples include tweets ‘that time white dude makes a song about gay interracial love and made a million dollars’ and an article that I found personally irritating ‘2013 MTV VMA’s: Everything Was Black, Except the Winners’.

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When did hop-hop culture become synonymous with black culture?

Music videos spread with technologies and distribution networks do in some ways portray an typical 50cent-esque image of ‘gangsta’. However this is not the case.  The technoscape of user generated media means that a lot of people call themselves hip-hop artists – but do only some people do it in an authentic way?

Do you have to have lived the oppression that is the supposed roots of hip-hop? Do you have to be male, hard knock, heterosexual? In defence of Mackelmore & Ryan Lewis – since when is writing effective and eloquent lyrics that acknowledge global issues as opposed to, pointing out, “how fat that girl’s ass is”, not considered to be award-winning hip-hop deserving of recognition? Mackelmore’s music won because it’s the first time in our culture that gay marriage and marriage equality were raised through hip hop and popularised in the public sphere.

Is hop hop dependent on race, gender or class? Do you have to be African American, oppressed male to be able to make your hip-hop music authentic? The current nature of hip-hop would suggest not with rising Australian artists such as Urthboy, and Hope One an Australian female beat boxer. But should these artists have to be seen as ‘challenging’ the authentic notion of hip-hop just because they’re not a black youth from the Bronx that’s dealt with ‘extreme hardships’? I 100% disagree. Hip-hop like any other genre or music or art, should be a forum for individual expression regardless who you are or where you come from.

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